The tiny Middle Eastern state of Qatar has come a long way since it gained independence in 1971.Qatar’s capital, Doha, was a sleepy pearl fishing community until the ’90s, when it began tapping into its vast offshore natural gas reserves. After investing heavily in liquefied natural-gas technology, Qatar is now one of the leading exporters in the world, with a sovereign wealth fund (known as the Qatar Investment Authority) worth over $85 billion, according to CNN Money.
Today, it is home to the headquarters of the country’s largest oil and gas companies, and a population of almost 600,000.
And the city is not done growing. As a result of Qatar’s increasing corporate and commercial activity, 47 new skyscrapers are currently being built in Doha, according to Emporis. New hotels will also be joining Qatar’s skyline to attract even more tourists to its spa villages, huge malls, and scenic artificial islands. In 2022, Doha will even host the FIFA World Cup in its brand-new (questionable-looking) stadium.
To see how far the country has come since it gained its independence from the United Kingdom just over four decades ago, we compiled some photos of Doha then and now.
THEN: Here’s what the skyline of the Qatari capital of looked like in 1977.
NOW: Here’s the Doha skyline today. There are currently 47 buildings under construction in the city, according to Emporis.
THEN: Here’s what the heart of Doha’s commercial center looked like back in 1968.
NOW: Today, the West Bay is Doha’s rapidly expanding urban center, with numerous skyscrapers and plenty of shopping malls.
THEN: When it was first built in 1975, the Qatar National Museum in Doha was quite a big deal. Here it is in 1977, framed by a part of the crumbling old city.
NOW: Today, Doha is internationally known for its latest museum, the Qatar Museum of Islamic Art. Set against the skyline and lit up at night, the museum houses the city’s collection of manuscripts, textiles, and ceramics.
This was part of Doha’s open-air market in 1977. Piles of garbage and loiterers smoking hookah were not an uncommon site.
NOW: Doha is all about its luxury shopping malls. This is the mall in Porto Arabia, with views of the riviera.
THEN: The palace of the ruling Sheikh in Doha, Qatar in 1971. The grounds weren’t even complete yet.
NOW: And here is the Emiri Diwan (the Emir’s Palace) today, with lush green grass and well-kept grounds.
THEN: This was the clock tower in the industrial center of Doha in 1971.
NOW: And here is the clock tower today, dwarfed by the Grand Mosque at the Emiri Palace in the background.
THEN: A discarded Plymouth Convertible American car is seen on the outskirts of the city in 1977, where it was dumped in the desert.NOW: Today, the outskirts of the city have tourist attractions such as the Khalifa International Stadium and the 984-foot-tall Aspire Tower in the Doha Sport City complex.